- Author: Martha White
We recently received an invitation to submit photos from the past 40 years of California Master Gardener program activities. These photos will be compiled into a visual history, of sorts, showing the evolution of the MG programs. I began to wonder about how the program got started. Did it begin in California? Why was it started? Who thought up the idea?
A quick Internet search informed me that in 1972, Dr. David Gibby and Dr. A Davidson were working together at the Washington State University Cooperative Extension in the Seattle area. They needed help in dealing with the high demand from the public for gardening advice. The first trial clinic was held in a vacant space in the Tacoma Mall. Curriculum was developed, and training began in King County and Pierce County, Washington, in 1973. The concept spread. Today, Master Gardeners are active in all 50 states, and in 8 Canadian provinces.
The first California Master Gardener programs were established as University of California Cooperative Extensions in Riverside and Sacramento counties. The map in our California Master Gardener Handbook shows the statewide network of MG county programs. In 2016, according to the Extension MG Survey, more than 5 million hours have been donated by UC Master Gardeners since the program began, with a value of more than $137 million.
I don't even try to put a monetary amount onto any conversations I get to have about gardening! For me, I am happy to help someone figure out the name of a pretty flower, or look up a pesky bug to decide if it is a “beneficial” bug. Master Gardeners will continue to offer gardening advice and support for Solano County, hopefully, for the next 40 years and beyond!
David Gibby,” Master Gardener Program History Archived”
Extension MG National Survey
CA Master Gardener Handbook, 2nd Edition, UCANR 2015, Publication 3382.